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Bluetooth pioneer hooks into GPS

CSR offers connected satnav platform following SiRF purchase
Mon Mar 01 2010, 10:50

BLUETOOTH PIONEER CSR has been showing off the results of its purchase last year of GPS technology market leader SiRF, which gave it a foothold in the lucrative market for location-aware devices.

Products from the two companies have been integrated into a platform called Trinity, suitable for connected devices bundling satnav and multimedia facilities, It comprises two CRS chips - one for audio, and the other a communications hub supporting Bluetooth, WiFi and FM, plus an ARM11-based system-on-a-chip from SiRF called the SiRFprima which supports GPS, 3D rendering, and video.

The three are linked by a software layer called Synergy that gives device makers easy access to the functionality without getting them bogged down in complexities such as the Bluetooth protocol stack, according to SiRF founder Kanwar Chadha, who is now global marketing director for CSR.

CSR demonstrated at Mobile World Congree how the platform can run the Android operating system, stream content via WiFi and play audio to a Bluetooth headset.

Also shown was the SiRF Star IV GPS chip which packs its own processor so that it can provide location information without calling on a host device's main processor. Chadha said it is also very tolerant of electronic interference because it analyses any noise in the spectrum used by GPS and "notches it out".

This makes it suitable for use in electronically noisy devices such as digital cameras, in which GPS can be used to location-stamp images.

The chip also has some clever power management, said Chadha. "The problem with GPS is that if you keep it on all the time you waste the battery, if you leave it off it takes too long to get a signal."

sirfThe SiRF Star IV chip wakes itself up four times a day to check current satellite positions, information that it uses to calculate their likely location over the next few hours. The result of what the company calls SiRF Aware technology is that when the user asks for a location, it can get a fix a lot more quickly but with minimal power drain.

The GPS chips can combine satellite data with other fixes such as triangulation and Wifi tracking using partners like Skyhook. CSR showed a Malata satnav on sale in Japan that hooks in data from a gyro, an accelerometer and a barometer that is said to give a fix so accurate that it can track you moving round a house and even say what floor you are on.

The SiRF deal actually gave CSR two companies, because in 2007 SiRF bought a California-based Centrality Communications, which designs satnav processors around ARM cores.

This combination of CPU, communications and GPS skills has completely changed  CSR , according to senior product marketing manager David James. "CSR is now a platform company, not just a company selling components," he said. µ


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